Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine should be rolled out urgently, according to top scientists who believe it may prove a game-changer in No10’s efforts to persuade hesitant adults to get jabbed.
Analysis of NHS data indicates that up to 2million over-50s still have yet to apply for their first dose despite being eligible since March.
Experts claim offering them the convenience of J&J’s vaccine, which was approved for use in Britain in May, could boost uptake rates because it only requires a single jab. Brits will only need one dose to get a Covid passport.
Research suggests that 10% of Brits who avoid the Covid jab are doing so because they fear needles. This means that approximately 200,000 over-50s could be avoiding the vaccine.
Experts say although the Johnson & Johnson jab still requires a needle, the prospect of only facing a single dose, rather than the usual two, could convince some people to take the plunge.
The call comes amid warnings that winter will be difficult with rising Covid cases and deaths, combined with slow rollouts of the Covid booster jab programme.
While most over 50s have received their Covid vaccines, around 2million, or about one in 10 over-50s, are not fully vaccinated in England as the country heads towards winter.
Only 4.5 percent of England’s 9.3million eligible citizens (47%) have received their doses. The majority of England’s over-50s have not yet received their shots. Patients say they are finding it difficult to find the right place to get them.
Some experts hope that offering the unvaccinated over 50s the single dose Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine might inspire some, who may have a fear of needles, to come forward.
Only 4.5 percent of England’s 9.3million eligible citizens (47%) have received their doses. The majority of England’s over-50s have not yet received their shots. Patients complain that they are finding it difficult to find the right places to get them.
Ministers relied on success of the booster programme successful rollout jabs for 12-15-year olds and boosters over-50s, health staff, and the most vulnerable to reduce the impact of another wave.
It has a Plan B that would see the return to face coverings and guidance from work at home if the NHS is under too much pressure.
Experts warn that the slow uptake of vaccines in over-50s could pose a problem.
MailOnline’s analysis earlier this month revealed that 1.9 million over-50s had not received any form of the Covid vaccine. This could mean they are still vulnerable to the virus as the weather gets colder and people stay indoors more.
This includes the 127,288 elderly who are highly vulnerable to the disease due to their age. The Covid vaccine was first offered to over 80s last December.
Dr Al Edwards, Associate Professor in biomedical technology at University of Reading’s School of Pharmacy, said offering the unvaccinated over 50s the J&J jab could convince them to come forward.
He stated that offering convenient services can be extremely efficient.
It could be beneficial to have one dose rather than having one and then having another.
Dr Edwards stressed the importance of getting as many people as possible vaccinated against the Covid virus, given the recent rise in cases.
He said, “Anything we can to get even one dosage into people’s hands will make a tremendous difference.”
“Multiple doses in the long term are most likely to be the best, but the leap from one dose to the next is huge in terms protection.
“There are many things we can do to prevent early death. Vaccinating people over 50 who have not been vaccinated would make a big difference.”
The J&J jab was approved for use in the UK in May but exact details on when it might actually be deployed have not been forthcoming.
The MHRA is the UK’s medical product regulator.Medicines & Healthcare products, Regulatory Agency), We have even prepared a leaflet about the jab that patients can take home after getting vaccinated.
No10 announced with great pride that it had received 20million doses and that these would be part the UK’s third shot booster.
The Government announced that the vaccine could be kept at fridge temperatures between 2-8 degrees Celsius, making it ideal for distribution to UK care homes.
At the time the Government said it was expecting the first deliveries of J&J jab later this year.
But Government sources have now told MailOnline the UK is yet to receive any doses of the J&J jab, repeating only that it is expected ‘later this year’.
J&J’s jab, which works in a similar way to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, has already been rolled out in the EU 15 million times.
Johnson and Johnson jabs have been distributed in the EU to 15 million people since June. They are however one the smaller suppliers of Covid vaccines for the continent.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, one of three Covid vaccines that are approved for use in America, has been administered to approximately 15 million people, just like the EU.
It is also a weapon in the US’ arsenal, with 15,000,000 doses given as of Oct 16.
Ministers have yet to sign off plans on who will be offered the jab first because the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which advises the government on vaccines, has yet to issue its advice.
While the UK is waiting for the J&J vaccine, some experts are saying that offering the jab to the unvaccinated over 50s could offer them crucial protection over the winter.
Dr Edwards said that not only will the jab protect you against the virus but it may also prevent you becoming so sick with Covid that your NHS staff and resources are required in an emergency.
He stated, “It would have been tragic to have a serious medical emergency and find out that your health system is not able to provide the best care possible,”
“If there aren’t enough people vaccinated, the health system won’t be able look after you or the people you love.”
Dr Edwards, who describes his self as a blood donor and faints at the sight blood, spoke out on the subject of needle phobia.
He stated that one jab might be enough to lift the barrier, as it was not impossible.
He stated, “I understand that needles can be scary, and I do so very strongly. But, I believe that it shouldn’t be a barrier to doing things like this.”
It could be beneficial to have one dose rather than having to book two.
Professor Anna Whittaker, a University of Stirling expert in vaccines behavioural medicine, suggested that the single vaccination of the over-50s who aren’t vaccinated could offer them faster protection as the country enters winter.
She said, “Generally, if a vaccination has been proven safe and efficacious in the age group concerned, it would be worth being offered.”
“Another benefit of a single dose (beyond reduced need for needles) is that it provides full protection faster than a two-dose schedule.
The single-dose vaccine was found to be 67% effective in preventing Covid infection.
Comparatively, the most recent UK data on vaccine efficacy revealed that two doses Pfizer were 73% effective in preventing infection, and two doses Oxford-AstraZeneca was 62% effective.
Moderna, the third Covid vaccine that has been approved for use in the UK, is rated 95 percent effective in preventing infection by the UK government.
Both trials and real world data for the J&J jab has shown it is 85 per cent effective in preventing severe disease or hospitalisation.
However, there have been some reports of a rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barré syndrome, where the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system, and some cases of blood clots associated with the vaccine.
This is similar to the risks associated the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccination, which uses similar technology.
Experts previously suggested that the anti-vax conspiracy theories and complacency of believing the pandemic has ended could be leading some over 50s not to get the vaccine.
The calls come amid concerns in Covid data, with cases breaching 50,000 yesterday for the first time since July, a 15% weekly jump over last week.
Experts have been warning for a winter surge, which will be fueled by returning students to school, returning workers to the workplace, and people socialising more indoors.
The effectiveness of covid vaccines has been proven to decrease the need for hospitalisations.
Last month a Public Health England report found unvaccinated people were up to five times more likely to be hospitalised if they catch Covid than the double-jabbed.